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Cheap food

Daring Cooks February 2012|Patties!

Specifically, Rösti!

The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness! We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!

I have never made hashbrowns successfully.  I’ve managed to brown potatoes in a pan somewhat effectively on occasion, but I’ve never made a truly beautiful plateful of hashbrowns – until now!

Friday Tip|Easy Meals (part three)

Kashe pictured with penne and no cheese

Kashe Varnishkes is one of the best and easiest dishes on the planet.  It’s also one of the cheapest.  Double score.

There’s not much to write about this dish before the recipe, because there really isn’t much to it; pasta, onion and buckwheat.  That doesn’t sound impressive as a meal, but it’s very hearty and very satisfying, due at least in part to the frying of the onion in chicken fat.

Friday Tip*|Easy Meals (part two)

Happy Friday!

Keeping with our easy meals theme, I’m resurrecting a recipe that I’ve posted before.  Since we’re doing easy this month,  I think that applies to me too.

Lentils are extremely nutritious and very easy to make.  It’s just a matter of simmering with some spices (turmeric and salt) and then finishing with oil.  Brown lentils are super healthy, but they take a while – about 45 minutes to an hour.  Their cousin, pink lentils** (which you can see are actually orange) however, take about 10-15 minutes.  In fact, this light meal (which doubles as a nice snack) can be made in about 20 minutes, and it only takes that long because you need 20 minutes to make rice.

Friday Tip|Coffee Grinder Spices

Hola!  It’s almost the end of Friday, but a tip you shall have!!

I just started a new job (yay!), which will likely lead to more food postings (I’m now in the grocery business and work with quite a few folks who love to cook and eat, so I’m anticipating a lot of idea sharing), but has also led to me being more or less exhausted.  I’m expecting this to sort itself out in the next few weeks, but for now, posting may be thin and sporadic.

Friday Tip|Rescuing Mayo

Happy Friday!

As promised, we’re moving from philosophical to hands-on practical around here.  Today’s tip is a fantastically easy way to save a broken mayonnaise.

Don’t know what that is?  Well then, skip to the bottom of the post and let’s get you making some mayonnaise!

If you do have experience in making mayo at home (or aioli, which is marvelous and the main reason I make mayonnaise instead of buying it), you have likely found that many recipes “break.”  I don’t know why exactly breaking happens, but it’s maddening and until last night, I’d never been able to save a mayo that had done this.

Friday Tip|Using Cornmeal For Pizza

Friday, it’s Friday!

I’m afraid that today’s post title (is it a headline?) may lead some here looking for a way to use cornmeal in pizza crust.  Or maybe as a topping.  These ideas are interesting, but they aren’t our topic.  Today, I’m going to talk about how to get your raw pizza dough into the oven.

This can be hard, unless you have a screen that you’re building your pizza on (and unless you’ve done hours in a pizza restaurant, I’m not even sure why you would know what one is, but if you do, and you have one, and you use it, no tip this week!).  But there is an easy little trick that has worked for us like a charm ever since we started making pizza.

Friday Tip|What To Do With Leftover Tomato Paste

Friday!  And this Friday leads the masses out of Los Angeles and leaves us with the quiet city all to ourselves…

But I digress.  Today’s tip is a piece of sheer genius that I found somewhere – quite possibly Cook’s Illustrated.  Lots of recipes call for a small amount of tomato paste, usually a tablespoon or two.  Cans of tomato paste are never that small (I think they would be impossible to open if they were), which inevitably means leftover paste.  You can circumvent this problem by purchasing a tube of tomato paste, which is quite convenient, but much more expensive than a can.*  Ninjas are thrifty creatures and just can’t stand to pass up an opportunity to save a little money.  So we buy the cans, but that leaves the pesky problem of what to do with the other six tablespoons of tomato paste…

Friday Tip|Repurpose Your Leftovers!

One of the keys to eating cheaply (and well) is eating everything you buy.  This inevitably means leftovers and leftovers can lead to food boredom, which is perilous for anyone trying to be careful with their food budget.

There are many compelling reasons for not wasting food, but our number one reason around here is that we are…chea…er…thrifty.  Not throwing out uneaten food saves on both food budget and, if you’re unfortunate enough to have to pay for your garbage pickup, waste bills as well.  But eating the same thing for days in a row gets really tedious, even if you are making things that are delicious.  How to combat the evils of food boredom?  By reusing your leftovers to create something new!

Friday Tip|Bulk Spices!

Mustard seeds waiting to be made into something delicious

Yeah yo, it’s Friday!  Tip time!!

This week’s tip is all about saving money (which we love).  Your cooking will improve exponentially with some good quality spices.  The problem?  They cost a boatload of money!

Not to fret, friends, not to fret.  You can get bulk spices at your nicer stores (think co-ops and heath food…if you’re really lucky you live someplace where there is a Tenzing Momo), at a lot of ethnic-oriented markets (Indian stores are particularly good), and sometimes even at the regular ol’ market (look for little bags of spices hanging on the endcap racks).  But first, you need containers.

Sunday Dinner|Sweet Potato Ravioli in Walnut Cream Sauce


I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of the sweet potato ravioli you can get in the store. It tends to be kind of pasty, overly sweet, and the pasta is usually too thick.

So, naturally, the remedy to this is to make your own at home! Here is our version of homemade sweet potato ravioli. It contains prosciutto, but if you want to keep it vegetarian, you could add some salt. You won’t have the same cured taste that the prosciutto imparts, but you could add a slightly stronger cheese to give the filling a bit more depth.